WOW. This book was so huge, so deep, so intense…I had to take a week off after reading it before I could coherently review it. This is an amazing novel from debut author, Miss Ann Marie Pavese. Did I mention how HUGE it is? I love big books personally, so the size did not daunt me in the least bit. The first couple of chapters were a little slow, but they laid the groundwork for some amazing characters. The characters were what I loved most about this story. The main character, Aurora, is the perfect balance of fragility and strength. She faces moral dilemmas and has to make hard choices. Sometimes good ones, sometimes bad ones—but through it all her character remains likable and you want her to somehow escape the terrible circumstances surrounding her. Her best friend Raine is just as endearing, a gentler soul than Aurora and yet with a hidden strength of her own. (I hear rumors she will be getting her own story in the near future, something I am hugely in favor of). And the side characters—don’t get me started on them. They are AMAZING. The setting is dark, the plot even grimmer, and yet the characters who follow Rory through her journey are good, kind, lovable people. I found myself just as enraptured with their stories as I was with Rory’s. And the twists in this story…I don’t know how many times I set the book down and gasped out loud because I didn’t see them coming.
One thing I would have liked done differently was a bit of “house cleaning.” There were several chapters, especially in the first half of the book, that could have been condensed or cut without losing the overall story. But, since I like big books and every word the author wrote was so beautifully crafted, I almost hate to even mention it.
The only other thing I feel I should mention is a warning that this is a grim story. The circumstances are bleak. The darkness is about as black as it can be. There are scenes that some readers will find difficult. But at the same time…there is light in this story. This story, above all else, is a contrast of light versus darkness, of good versus evil…and of the struggle within the soul to choose between the two. There is a hint of allegory, especially in the back half of the book, and a redemption scene that literally had me weeping. There were several scenes in the climax that had me in tears because they were so beautifully written, because the character had come through so much to get to the ending, and she deserved every word of the beautiful climax.
If you like dark words, fantastic characters, unique creatures and BIG BOOKS…So Sang the Dawn will sing to your soul and utterly consume you as you read, and long after. It’s one of those stories that does not leave you when you close the cover. Bravo, Ms. Pavese. I see great stories in your future and cannot wait to read them.
RATING: I rate this story PG-13 for dark sequences, emotional abuse and thematic elements. There is no swearing or sexual content in this book.